For a guy who is entrenched in the day to day sales, marketing, and business operations for the Palometa Club, I would have thought that the novelty of the place might have worn off by now. Not the case. My latest visit to the Club was yet another reminder of how the fishery, town, staff, and fishing program that exists here is truly special. While I live and breath all that is involved with the behind the scenes nitty gritty, and at times get tired of talking about things like raghead crabs or flight itineraries, a week at the Club was a fresh reminder of how lucky I am to be a part of something so legit in the realm of destination fly fishing.
With average at best weather, the group landed twenty permit. TWENTY. I am trying to sound surprised as I promise there is not another fishing lodge in the Caribbean that landed 2o permit last week. At the same time this sort of performance has become, on most levels, par for the course. Week in and week out, previously jinxed permit seeking guests come into our care and custody and tag their 1st and oftentimes their 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th permit. Going on nearly two years of my relationship with the Palometa Club, and I am still scratching my head at the level of success our guests have come to enjoy and expect.
The thing about chasing permit that is an acquired taste is the desire or strange enjoyment that one derives from the hours of boredom and numerous failures. Thomas McGuane calls it, The Longest Silence, a metaphor for the time spent between catching permit. What makes it all worth while? How are there enough permit junkies out their to sustain a fishing lodge called “The Palometa Club”? To me, it is the moment when you are getting lulled to sleep by the rhythmic sound of a poling panga when the guides come out of their flip flops screaming about the fish headed your way. Your whole body is enveloped with adrenaline, nervousness, and the hope your fly will go where you are aimed. When it comes together there is NOTHING like it. One moment you are wondering why on earth you are not at work, poking around the mangroves for dim witted tarpon, or at least drinking beer. The next you are basking in the largest victory that exists in the world of fly fishing.
Mike Thompson, landed his two first permit. One of those fish was a 23 pounder. You can read about it in his inspiring trip journal posting found on this blog. Get out the kleenex as you may get misty eyed. While 6 guests this week caught their first permit (including my father), reading Mike’s account of his third trip Punta Allen (first in 27 years) was particularly enjoyable to me because I realized Mike has officially joined the Club. After literally years and years of saltwater flats fishing without getting one, Mike now gets it. He has tasted the raw pride and sense of accomplishment ONLY associated with catching a trophy permit. No other species can compare, and there is no greater fantasy for the fly rodder. Playing a small role in Mike’s and my Dad’s fish, as well as all the angling milestones that happen at The Palometa Club, is perhaps one of the most fulfilling parts of my job. It is certainly the most memorable reflection I keep with me from last week. Mike’s fish, like the 19 others landed, are case in point how the guide staff at the Palometa Club, top to bottom, is rewriting the book on how long McGuane’s Silence is actually measured.
Here are a few images from last week. More to Come.